Why young kids ask so many "why" questions:
Ever wondered why
young children ask so many "why" questions? Well, a new research
says children are motivated by a desire for explanation....
Wondering how blind people appear to fearlessly navigate busy
sidewalks or roads with just a cane? Well, UCLA researchers claim to
have found the answer for you.
have found that blindness causes structural changes that could help
brain reorganize itself functionally in order to adapt to a loss in
researcher Natasha Lepore, a postgraduate researcher at UCLA’s
Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, has found that visual regions of the
brain were smaller in volume in blind individuals than in sighted
However, for non-visual areas, the trend was reversed - they grew
larger in the blind.
This, the researchers say, suggests that the brains of blind
individuals are compensating for the reduced volume in areas
normally devoted to vision.
“This study shows the exceptional plasticity of the brain and its
ability to reorganize itself after a major input - in this case,
vision - is lost,” said Lepore.
expert added: “In other words, it appears the brain will attempt to
compensate for the fact that a person can no longer see, and this is
particularly true for those who are blind since early infancy, a
developmental period in which the brain is much more plastic and
modifiable than it is in adulthood.”
During the study, researchers used an extremely sensitive type of
brain imaging called tensor-based morphometry, which can detect very
subtle changes in brain volume, to examine the brains of three
different groups: those who lost their sight before the age of 5;
those who lost their sight after 14; and a control group of sighted
analysis revealed that loss and gain of brain matter depended
heavily on when the blindness occurred.
the early-blind group differed significantly from the control group
in an area of the brain’s corpus callosum that aids in the
transmission of visual information between the two hemispheres of
researchers suggest this may be because of the reduced amount of
myelination in the absence of visual input.
Myelin, the fatty sheaf that surrounds nerves and allows for fast
communication, develops rapidly in the very young. When the onset of
blindness occurs in adolescence or later, the growth of myelin is
already relatively complete, so the structure of the corpus callosum
may not be strongly influenced by the loss of visual input.
both blind groups, however, the researchers found significant
enlargement in areas of the brain not responsible for vision.
example, the frontal lobes, which are involved with, among other
things, working memory, were found to be abnormally enlarged,
perhaps offering an anatomical foundation for some of blind
individuals’ enhanced skills.
study appears online in journal NeuroImage.